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Overseas divorce? Understanding financial claims in English family courts

Just because your divorce took place in another country, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t bring a financial claim against your former spouse in English family courts.

Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984, could enable you to bring a financial claim against your former spouse, as long as you both meet certain criteria. Either:


You or your spouse were domiciled in England or Wales

In order to make a claim under the 1984 Act, either you or your former spouse must have been domiciled in England or Wales when you were divorced or when the application was made for permission (see below for more information on this). Or…


You or your spouse were habitually resident in England or Wales

This must be either when your foreign divorce went through or when the application was made (again, see below). Or…


Either of you has a beneficial interest in a property in England or Wales

This house has to have been a matrimonial home at some point during your marriage.  Even if you don’t meet any of these criteria, it may still be possible to make a financial claim against your spouse in the English courts, due to EU legislation on the matter .

In essence, it’s about whether or not you and your spouse have enough of a connection to England and Wales.  It’s important to seek advice from a solicitor to find out whether or not you could be entitled to make a claim.


Court permission

In order to make an application, you will need to obtain permission from the court. This permission is generally only given if the courts feel that there are substantial grounds for the application being made into an order.

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The types of things the courts will take into consideration include your and your spouse’s connection to England and Wales, your connections with other countries and how long ago your divorce took place.

The courts will also look at any financial settlement you received in the country you were divorced in.

The UK Supreme Court has said that the purpose of Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 was:

“the alleviation of the adverse consequences of no, or no adequate, financial provision being made by a foreign court in a situation where there were substantial connections with England.”


Types of orders

What type of order the court could make, will depend upon your situation. However, courts have the discretion to make orders such as maintenance orders (for children or spouses), lump sum payment orders and pension sharing orders.

As with divorces that take place within England and Wales, the court’s primary consideration will be the welfare of any children.

In order to discover whether you could be entitled to make a financial claim under the 1984 Act, it’s important to speak to a solicitor as soon as possible. A delay in making a financial claim after your divorce has taken place abroad, could impact your financial settlement in the English courts.


International high net worth clientele

Our team of specialist lawyers are experienced in representing high net worth individuals or partners of high net worth individuals. Our knowledge of corporate issues from liquidity to company valuation means that we are best placed to make sure you get the best possible deal in the financial settlement of your divorce.

We have experience in locating hidden assets both at home and abroad and will use our corporate expertise to make sure your partner isn’t hiding anything. We understand pension funds and investments and know how important these are when it comes to discussing maintenance, either for you or for your child.

We also understand the discretion that is required when representing high net worth individuals and can advise you of the best way to make sure that your financial settlement doesn’t become public knowledge.


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you?

Our expert divorce solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues, including:

Contact our expert divorce solicitors to see how we can help with your divorce

For more information on the divorce process call our expert divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email

Our expert divorce solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: Princes Exchange, Princes Square, Leeds, LS1 4HY

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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23rd August 2017

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